Provision restricts US government Chinese purchases due to espionage worries

Late last year, there was quite a bit of hoopla over whether the Chinese government was using devices from Chinese manufacturers such as ZTE and Huawei to spy on other nations. The manufacturers denied the claims, but it set off a firestorm of debate, and Canada moved to ban the devices. Now the US has slipped a review process into law to help safeguard against such attacks.

Congress slipped the review process into the appropriations bill that was just signed by President Obama, and with it comes new stipulations for certain government agencies. Per the language in the law, the agencies must initiate a formal review in conjunction with law enforcement that looks into the risk of espionage and sabotage before purchasing "information technology systems" that have a connection, whether through manufacturing or assembly, to China.

The Department of Justice, NASA, and the Department of Commerce are all bound by the language to perform risk assessments before potential purchases that look into "any risk associated with such system being produced, manufactured or assembled by one or more entities that are owned, directed or subsidized [by China]."

This follows many alleged cyberattacks on American media companies, banks, and other systems by the Chinese government. Likewise, late last year the White House expressed concern that ZTE and Huawei could be used by the nation for spying purposes, with the government urging telecommunications companies to tread carefully. Backlash came from both ZTE and Huawei, and sources said soon after that the White House found no evidence of spying from the latter manufacturer.

[via Reuters]